Two seasons ago, the Sobrato High girls basketball team went to play at Soledad High and got blasted, 65-30.
“We finished with three players after several fouled out, and they pressed us the whole time,” Bulldogs coach Erica Wallace said.
Fast forward to Dec. 14, and Sobrato exacted a measure of revenge, crushing the Aztecs, 62-12. The game was so lopsided that a running clock was implemented for the start of the fourth quarter. For a running clock to be initiated, a team needs to be up by 40 or more points in the final quarter. The score could’ve been worse, but Sobrato pulled in the reins halfway through the final quarter.
“Tonight was a little bit of payback,” said Wallace, who is in her ninth season as Sobrato coach. “But really, it just felt good having a home game and feeling we had some sort of home court advantage.”
This was the Bulldogs’ second consecutive blowout win, as they were coming off a 60-2 win over Luis Valdez Leadership Academy on Dec. 9. Outside of simply being superior, the pair of results show the Bulldogs are talented and looking to make some serious noise in the Blossom Valley League Santa Teresa East Division this season.
“This year’s team is great,” Wallace said. “We have a lot of potential and it’s exciting stuff. We’re starting to find ourselves and click a little bit, and the chemistry is great to see. Hopefully we’re building into something really nice.”
Wallace is probably happier than anyone to have a regular season again. In the Covid spring season, numbers were severely down, to the point where Sobrato couldn’t field a junior varsity team.
“Everyone that walked in the gym got a varsity jersey,” she said. “But those same people have returned and the seeds that were planted have now grown a little into tiny plants. It’s been a complete turnaround, not just in the numbers, but the commitment level, having less restrictions, having less nervousness because of Covid. In the spring we had injuries, eligibility issues, commitment issues, things weren’t mandatory so everyone kind of just hangs out. But this year we’re full-fledged focused.”
With a superior roster at her control, Wallace has the team pressing and playing a nice high-low game which creates tons of prime scoring opportunities. Sobrato forced 39 Soledad turnovers and converted approximately a third of those into uncontested layups. With posts Alexis “Kevin” Galindo and Jaci Bolton, the Bulldogs often pass the ball into one of their bigs near the free throw line.
Galindo and Bolton then can pass the ball back to a teammate streaking to the basket. Galindo is particularly lethal in the paint, able to maneuver to the basket and use her length to get off shots. The senior finished with 13 points against Soledad and Briana Bouton—who was the first reserve off the bench—poured in a game-high 16 points.
“Briana is an amazing player and she just earned her starting spot with this game,” Wallace said. “She’s definitely a beast, loves playing defense and gets a lot of steals and layups. It’s great to see her and the girls play with so much energy.”
Long, rangy and skilled, Bouton can stroke it from the outside, drive to the basket and excels by beating opponents down the floor for fast-break layups. Junior guard Savy Brito had a half-dozen steals to go along with 12 points, and sophomore point guard Violet Asuncion had nine points and was also effective on the defensive end.
Galindo is adept at rising over defenders and hitting short turnaround shots from in close, and she’s a force on the boards, especially on the offensive end where she utilizes her athleticism and nose for the ball to give her and the team second-chance opportunities.
Galindo’s teammates and coaches call her Kevin, for her game and similar body type to Nets star Kevin Durant.
“Kevin is coming back from a dislocated knee so this is her standout year to shine,” Wallace said. “She’s recognized her athleticism and is ready to do great things in her senior year. She’s just gliding in the air sometimes.”
Bolton and Galindo play well together and when they’re on, Sobrato scores points in bunches from in-close. Reserve Chandler Kirk plays within the flow of the game and makes great decisions with the ball, while Alexis Tapia and Olivia Tapia are solid players who Wallace can rely on.
For the Bulldogs to achieve their potential, they must rebound and limit their turnovers when teams press them. Wallace knows if her players don’t panic and in turn make smart decisions with the basketball, they could be in for a special season.
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471, ext. 3958.